A little performance enhancement goes a long way
I have a confession. It’s important that this confession be made in a non-threatening environment, ideally to a very broad audience of people of which many have never heard of me before, but are still able to empathise and hopefully commend me for being so brave.
But since Oprah won’t return my calls, I’ll have to make it here. I have used performance-enhancing drugs. By “performance” I mean “my year 6 School Captain campaign speech” and by “drugs” I mean “my mum”.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, I was School Captain of Our Lady of the Way Primary School, Emu Plains in 1995. It was a year of strong policy - freshly painted handball courts, new bubblers and the introduction of senior-only lunch areas - tainted only by one minor scandal: the most sophisticated and successful doping program the school had ever seen.
Our sixth grade teachers decided that anyone who wanted to be school captain had 24 hours to write a speech and there were only two rules: you weren’t allowed to get anyone to help you, and you couldn’t use props.
I was devastated. Mainly because Big W had a no return policy on ventriloquist dolls but also because I really wanted to be School Captain and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull off a whole speech on my own.
The only previous experience I’d had with public speaking was the time I tried to ask the counter attendant for a pineapple fritter in a crowded fish and chip shop. She gave me a potato scallop.
Feeling the pressure, I did what any good 11-year-old would do, I went home and watched an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and then had a mild panic attack.
After I pulled myself together I remembered that my brother had been school captain two years before me, so I approached him for some advice. He suggested taking a large dose of erythropoietin to increase the oxygen carrying ability of my blood so I could talk for longer.
And so I approached my mum.
She asked if I needed some help writing the speech. I said yes. The rest is history.
Strangely, I didn’t feel like I was cheating. As it turned out most of the other kids had some help from home. It was the mid-nineties and everyone was mum-doping so I don’t think I had an unfair advantage. It was just something you had to do to keep a level playing field.
Plus I’d used mum before to help with my project on the East German women’s swimming team and I didn’t see this as anything different.
But even after I’d got the school captaincy I couldn’t stop: long division, science projects, up to seven other speeches at school assembly and even the MS Read-A-Thon.
I felt unstoppable, invincible, all-powerful but now years later I realise just how sorry I am.
I’m so very very sorry that I’m crying as I write this. And it’s not just because I got caught, it’s because I’ve let you all down. I’ve let my family down. I bet you guys have families too, huh?
What I did was foolish and I’m only now beginning to understand the seriousness of my actions. I acknowledge the ramifications of this confession on the education system and I understand the Board of Studies may strip me of my captaincy. (However I don’t believe I should be issued with a “death penalty”. It just seems a little harsh considering I killed almost no one.)
And I am willing to work closely with the Board to expose the bigger problem of parents helping kids, something that is so entrenched in the education system, you basically had to be a cheat. In fact in a way I’m really helping people when you think about it.
But I’d especially like to point out that my mother had no hand in helping me write this confession and that it is completely all Seamus’s own work.
And she would also like the public to know that she, under no circumstances would she ever raise a cheat and that in fact all four of her children were brought up with good morals and are all respectful law abiding citizens.
Finally, as to the allegations that I used a company credit card to hire prostitutes, they are disgraceful and defamatory and I emphatically and categorically deny them 100 per cent unless anyone can prove they’re true.
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